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Tips and Tricks for Staying In Control During Your Family Road Trip

Anna Smith

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Taking a road trip with the family can be a fun and affordable way to see many different sights that you would otherwise miss if traveling by plane. But a road trip with children, especially young ones, can also be stressful. Careful planning and packing can help you stay in control during your trip and reduce stress among the entire family. The following tips and tricks can help you prepare for your family road trip.

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils can help promote a specific mood or feeling when diffused in the air. Some essential oils can be very stimulating while others can be calming and soothing. There are essential oil diffusers that are specifically designed for use in the car. You can choose some of the more relaxing oils like lavender, chamomile, or bergamot to help the entire family relax and prepare for some quiet time in the car. When you’re planning an adventure or sightseeing, using an uplifting oil like peppermint or citrus can energize and prepare everyone for the day’s events.

Healthy Snacks

Snacks are one of the most important things to pack when you’re traveling with children. It can be helpful to pack mostly healthy snacks for the parents and the children. Be sure to also includes a few treats that children don’t always get to eat at home. Save the special snacks for difficult times and use the healthy snacks when you know they just need something to hold them over until the next meal. Some great travel snacks include string cheese, bananas, pre-washed apples, clementines, fruit pouches, jerky, trail mix, and crackers.

Don’t Forget Car Activities

It’s a good idea to pack a variety of car-friendly activities for your children. If your kids are of reading age, they can play the license plate game or road trip bingo. There are printables available online of these types of games. For younger kids, it can be helpful to pack some new books and possibly a portable DVD player or tablet to occupy them. You can also purchase some new inexpensive toys to hand out when nothing else seems to work.

Wonderful memories can be made during family road trips. To minimize the stress of these trips you should pack plenty of snacks, fun activities, and consider diffusing essential oils in the car for relaxation or invigoration. With careful planning and preparation, you can enjoy your trip and provide your children with vacation memories to last a lifetime. For more tips on keeping control and energy during tricky situations, check out our other articles!

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Home Improvement

What to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Rental

Anna Smith

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Buying a vacation rental is a big decision, and it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve done your research before making such a large commitment. Here are some important things to consider before buying a vacation rental.

Location

The most important item that you should consider before buying a vacation rental property is location, location, location. Is there a high demand for your vacation market? Are you close enough to shops, cultural sites, tourism destinations, maintenance companies, and grocery stores?  Considering questions such as these will help you find the best place to purchase a vacation rental. Although properties in high demand areas will be more expensive, the return on those properties is much greater.  Location is more important than initial price. 

Rental Income

In order to buy a vacation rental, many homeowners will have to take out a second mortgage. Because of this, it’s important to make good financial decisions, such as making sure that the rental property can cover its own monthly costs. Consider how much rental income you can reasonably generate, and if it can offset your mortgage.  In the vacation market, there will most likely be an “offseason,” or a time of the year when renting is slow.  As the owner of the property, you must find a way to maintain your rental income, whether that is through ensuring continual renters, charging enough during the busy seasons that you can cover some decreased costs during the offseason, or both.  

Added Maintenance Costs

Oftentimes vacation homes are located in expensive areas.  “Expensive” areas could be areas that are more remote (i.e. mountains, wilderness, and national parks) or areas with high population and desirability, like beaches or big cities.  Regardless of the area in which your vacation home is located, maintenance costs will likely be much higher than in an average neighborhood. Scarce contracting resources in remote areas, or high contracting overhead and demand in high populated areas are contributing factors to this.  Recognizing that maintaining your vacation home oftentimes can be more expensive than maintaining your primary home is important before buying a vacation rental.

Home Styles

The style of your vacation home can impact its popularity among renters. Popular home styles in the United States include colonial houses, farmhouses, Victorian homes, Cape Cod homes, mid-century modern homes, and craftsman homes. Beach houses and cabins are also quite popular among vacationers. You might consider buying a home and remodeling it to fit one of these popular styles. You could also choose to build instead of buying. When you build a home, you get to choose from a variety of custom home styles. The flexibility that comes with building a custom home can be a great asset.

Amenities

One factor in ensuring that your vacation rental has enough renters is making sure that your house has the amenities that your target market desires. It’s a good idea to research the needs and wants of your particular target market. For example, a beach townhouse will not have RV and ATV parking areas, and a cabin might not have the same amenities as a beach house. It’s important to make sure the house has what the people want. While you might want to consider buying a home that has specific amenities suited to the needs of your target market, there are several amenities that generally appeal to most people. A pool table, hot tub, and TV are generally safe bets for vacation homes. If you want to attract renters, put money into the amenities.  You want to give renters something that they wouldn’t get at home.

Marketing Strategies

As the vacation rental market is becoming more popular, it’s likely that you will have a good amount of competition. There are hundreds of properties on all the major listing sites, and it’s not always easy to get your property to stand out from the crowd. Before buying a vacation rental, you should take some time to lay the foundation of a marketing strategy that can help you drive traffic to your vacation home. You can find renters better as you create an attention-grabbing listing, and advertising your properties on several online platforms. You should also research property promotion and pricing strategies before buying a vacation home.

Taxes and Interest Rates

Taxes and interest rates vary by location.  A vacation home in California is much more likely to have higher rates than a cabin in the woods of Idaho.  If money is tight and this is your first location home, pay close attention to taxes and interest.

Laws and Regulations

There are laws and regulations that govern the vacation rental market. These rules will vary depending on the local laws for each location. You should make yourself aware of these rules before you buy a vacation rental, as these local laws could highly impact your decision. General rules that apply to most locations include obtaining a permit and business license, obeying taxation rules, safety regulations, and insurance regulations.

Continuous Cash Flow

Because purchasing a vacation rental is a big investment, it’s a good idea to calculate your expected cash flow before you commit. You should do some market research and talk to other vacation rental landlords and business professionals. Try to get an idea of the amount of vacation renters in your prospective area. Making sure your vacation rental will be regularly frequented with interested renters is one important factor in the success of any investment. You should also try to estimate the number of needed repairs and maintenance for your property. If your property will cost more money than it brings in, it’s clear you will have a problem with continuous cash flow.  

There are many benefits that can come with investing in a vacation rental property. It’s a great way to supplement your income, cash in on tax benefits, and increase your enjoyment. Considering these few ideas before making that investment will help you make an informed and intelligent decision.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Cost-Saving Tips for Vacationing with Your Family

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News For The New Mainstream

3 Tips for Traveling Around Boston With a Big Family

Anna Smith

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architectural photography of city

Boston makes an ideal family vacation. A host of historical monuments, old churches, interesting museums, and more dot the landscape of this diverse city. It is important to remember that Boston is a major metropolitan area, making it important that you know how to get around its environs. Here are three tips for traveling around Boston with a big family.

Making Your Plans

The key to a seamless travel experience is to plan ahead. This is especially crucial when traveling with kids. Although you want to be sure to leave room for spontaneity, it is a good idea to have a basic daily plan in place. Even something as easy as making all of your dinner reservations in advance so that you are not scrambling at the last minute can help to make your trip go more smoothly. The last thing that you want is a meltdown with children because they got hungry or overtired. You should also make sure to schedule rest time during the middle of the day if you are traveling with young kids in tow.

Driving Tips

Before you take to the streets of Boston, it is vital that you know how you are going to tackle the traffic. Traveling during the off times will help you to avoid traffic congestion. If you have to travel during busy times premium SUV models can be more comfortable for your family. You may be stuck in the car for a while, so it is important that your kids have enough room to spread out. This will make for a more pleasant experience for everyone in the family.

See It on Foot

One of the best things about Boston is that it is an easily walkable city. The major tourist spots are located in a compact area, making it easy to hit a lot of attractions traveling on foot. The highlight of any trip to Boston is walking the Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile trail traverses downtown Boston, hitting 16 historic locations as you follow the red brick path at your feet. Along the way, you will pass a collection of museums, historic homes, churches, burying grounds, and more. If you get tired of walking, you can also utilize the city’s extensive subway system, affectionately known as the “T.”

Exploring Boston is a great way to expose your children to the birthplace of the nation. You will experience a more enjoyable trip if you plan ahead and with your children’s needs in mind.

Planning on taking a road trip to Boston from far away? Read more great tips here: Traveling Long Distance With Kids in the Car

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Health & Fitness

Foods You Can Make Healthier from Scratch at Home

Anna Smith

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Foods You Can Make Healthier from Scratch at Home

Eating healthy can sometimes be a hassle. It is expensive to buy food that is certified organic, and those costs just continue to increase. As an alternative to buying expensive healthy foods, here are some that you can make from scratch at home.

Bread

One thing that you can make from scratch is bread. While you will have to most likely purchase specific bread pans, bread is one of the cheaper foods to make from home and has been by people for centuries. Bread, at its simplest, contains flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and water. There are dozens if not hundreds of recipes for making homemade bread. Most all of them however will require the presence of yeast, or saccharomyces cerevisiae. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the oldest foods still used in the world, used in other foods like wine and other baked goods.

Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is an incredibly simple food to make, requiring just whole milk and a yogurt culture. Yogurt culture is a culture of bacteria that metabolizes the enzyme lactase, which is present in all milk products. This is why a lot of people who are lactose intolerant can eat yogurt with little to no problems. To make homemade yogurt, buy a yogurt culture, which can simply be a cup of your favorite plain yogurt brand, that you add to milk and let ferment overnight. There are many different variations that you can make, such as adding honey for a sweeter yogurt. Yogurt can also keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Granola

Granola is another good food that you can make healthier from scratch at home. There are dozens of variations of homemade granola, but each includes dry and wet ingredients. The dry ingredients include oats, almonds, coconuts, sunflower seeds, and anything else you might want to add. The wet ingredients form a syrup, which includes honey, butter or oil and vanilla that you warm up and then pour over the dry ingredients which are then spread into a pan and baked in the oven. Each recipe of homemade granola varies, but most agree that it is much simpler, less expensive, and very healthy compared to store bought granola.

While it does take a little extra effort to make food from scratch at home, it will pay off in the end because the food will be healthier and tastier than food from the store.

Here’s another article you might like: Vegetables That Are Healthier When Eaten Raw

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